Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When your back's against the wall, what do you do?

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I was listening to a Dr. Laura podcast this morning (mentioned her in a previous blog) and a lady called because she found out that her husband had been involved in a 6-month affair. 
She became suspicious due to excessive text messaging and approached him about it. He denied it and said he and the lady were "just friends."  Upon further 'investigation' she presented him with cold, hard facts, at which point he admitted it and agreed to go to therapy. While in therapy, she also found out he had cheated on her while she was pregnant with their second child. 
Dr. Laura first had her take some responsibility for her part in possibly focusing too much on the children and not him. She also mentioned that the character of a man who would screw another woman while his wife is carrying his child is pretty much a low-life and that marital therapy can help to improve situational issues, but is pretty much useless in changing a person's character. 

Dr. Laura initially is leaning towards helping the lady gain the strength to leave the marriage, but clearly the wife is finding every excuse to excuse her husband's behavior.  The wife describes him as a good man who totally doesn't fit the profile of a 'bad man,' as he's nice to her and the children, is an otherwise good father and provides for the family. 

So, given this circumstance, what would you do?  If a friend had this issue, what advice would you give her?

Well, Dr. Laura gave this advice (
"You have 2 kids, don't have any others. You have 2 kids to raise and you want to keep it copacetic. Stop checking his emails and text messages and assume he's going to screw around...just ask him to at least not disrespect the home by bringing them to your house again. Just try to get along until the kids are grown and then you can make your decision.  For the sake of he's supporting the family and being good with the kids, you just smile and be the Stepford wife until the kids are grown."
As most people know, I have this new outlook on life and dealing with difficult relationships and situations.
1.    Maintain the status quo
2.    Ending the relationship
3.    Making the relationship better
How does this all fit into the advice given by Dr. Laura?  I believe she is suggesting that the lady choose option 1.  Why?
-Option 2 is clearly something the wife has a hard time coming to terms with.  While her husband is a lying cheat, he is a 'good' father and husband (although, in my opinion, the cheating makes him not so good).  He also is the main provider of the household.  If she leaves the relationship, not only will she possibly be struggling financially, she will have less time to spend mothering her children and the dad will end up either being an absentee father or she and her children will have to deal with visitations with dad and his new bimbo of the week (Dr. Laura's words, not mine).
-Option 3 is void if and when there is addiction, abuse or psychopathy involved.  In Dr. Laura's opinion, while some of the infidelity may be circumstantial, the fact that he cheated while she was pregnant and basically lived a double life until found out and lied about it until proof was given and tried to flip it on the wife to make it into her fault….but totally not fit the profile of this type of person…..is basically a psychopathy-like characteristic.  Although she wasn't able to meet him in order to provide a full diagnosis, she assumed for the purpose of the call that he fell into that category, so basically voided this option.
So, in some situations, is maintaining the status quo (even if it's not a good one) the best option?  I'm assuming that if the husband was outright cheating, bringing STDs and illegitimate children into the marriage or being abusive, then ending the relationship would be the only option.  However, since the affairs are discreet and the wife feels strongly about wanting her children to have a stable childhood……there are other options to make that happen.  Thoughts?  Questions?  Concerns?

* Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the incredibly popular and controversial psychotherapist who hosts a nationally syndicated, top-rated midday radio talk show. She is also an author who has written several books on relationships, moral and ethical issues.  Popular titles include:
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives
How Could You Do That?!: Abdication of Character, Courage & Conscience
Surviving a Shark Attack (On Land): Overcoming Betrayal and Dealing with Revenge

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Virtues of BlackPlanet.com

 It all began several years ago while I was on a quest to find out more about a colleague (now former) of mine.  We would run into each other in the office kitchen and talk about life, hobbies, etc., etc.  I did then what I still do now…..I googled him.  Lo & behold, I came across a mention of him on BlackPlanet and I created a 'dummy' profile on the website, so that I could follow him more closely.  Aside from discovering that my colleague was a chubby chaser (a whole other story -- *side eye*), I discovered a whole other side of BlackPlanet that no one ever talks about.


I don't even remember signing up for it, but BlackPlanet comes out with a daily email blast that provides links to articles and videos about everything going on in black media, politics, health, spirituality, etc., etc.  This daily email is actually a one-stop shop where you can get all your celebrity gossip, find out the latest news on how politics are affecting the urban community (and ethnic people, in general), stay up-to-date on the latest fashion and health trends, listen to the latest gospel music and get a little inspirational message at the start of your day.


Today, like most days, I am focusing mainly on work, but trying to also read a couple of my personal emails on the side and delete some of my junk mail.  While reading today's BlackPlanet email, I came across an article about Denzel Washington and how he told his daughter that if she's going to pursue acting, she should model herself after someone like Viola Davis.  He explained that the only way she has a chance of succeeding in Hollywood as a dark-skinned African American woman is to truly be beyond talented at her craft, to the point where she cannot be denied.


Of course this one article sends me on a tailspin and I then watch the one-hour actor's roundtable video (Great video & great series to keep an eye on!!!!!), where he made this quote.  I also decide to look up details about his wife and children to get a better idea of what they were all working with.  Well…..in my search, I came across an article that, I believe, if internalized, will make me a better person and a better wife.  Enjoy an excerpt below!


Make It Last Forever: Denzel And Pauletta Washington

Feb 9, 2012

By HelloBeautifulStaff


Denzel didn't experience love at first sight when he met his wife Pauletta, but a year after the two met on the set of the 1977 film Wilma (in which they were co-starring)–Denzel knew she was something special.
Five years later they were married and built a beautiful family together which included four children who are all succeeding in their own right. Three are currently enrolled in college (Tisch, Yale and U.Penn) and one is a professional football player for the California Redwoods in the United Football League. A strong family unit speaks volumes of the family's foundation–the parents. Denzel and Pauletta have been able to take the strength of their own 28 year-old relationship and share it with their children. This couple does more than make it last, they endure and thrive.
Why She Loves Him: Pauletta has no problem dealing with the women that come after her man. She told Essence that it would be senseless to be upset with flirting women because Denzel comes home to her. She even takes the flirtation as a compliment. However, Pauletta knows that Denzel's appeal is more than his knee-weakening looks. He's amazing inside and out. Pauletta told Oprah, "I thought he was cute, but I fell in love with his spirit. And then I thought, 'Hmm, not a bad package.'"
Why He Loves Her: Pauletta's got the kind of confidence you can touch. When your man is voted by countless magazines, women and even some men as the sexiest man alive, you've got to be one of the most confident women alive. Pauletta is just that. Her confidence is as sexy as Denzel's demeanor and if it's one thing that Denzel loves, it's confidence. On an appearance at the Wendy Williams show, Pauletta explained, "I am so secure to who Pauletta is and my mother raised me in a way to know that who I am. She married me for who I am and I've always felt confident in who I am and it's by the grace of God."
Why They Work: Denzel says that love is a marathon and not a sprint. He prepared to put in the work and focus for a long-term love with Pauletta when the two were dating. These two also keep God at their relationship's center. Denzel said in an interview that spirituality is his life and it's reflected on his and his family's lives.  Denzel told The Washington Post that his family is the base that keeps him solid. He added, "Acting is just a way of making a living. Family is life. When you experience a child, you know that's life."

Why We Love Them: Denzel and Pauletta share a balanced relationship that boasts love, commitment and respect. They keep it simple. Denzel told Oprah, "When it comes to the kids, I give complete credit to my wife, Pauletta. Early on, we decided that we wouldn't drag them around to all the places I go. Pauletta was the consistent one who made breakfast every day and took them to school. She taught them their prayers." This consummate family unit totally makes us swoon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Robert De Niro, Grace Hightower and my musings on the like.....

Am I the only one who wasn't aware of Robert De Niro's "preferences"?  Robert De Niro, a famous actor and native New Yorker, loves him some black women.  His first wife was an African-American actress and singer.  They divorced in 1988.  He then dated a model by the name of Toukie Smith, also African-American.  In 1997, he married his 2nd and current wife, Grace Hightower.  They have been married for 15 years.
  -->  -->

Anyway, this recent discovery had me thinking about interracial relationships and wondering how prevalent they really are.  Being the researcher that I am and hearing over the years how men prefer women of other races and how black women can't find a man because they are leaning towards white women and how black men feel that life would be easier (or is easier) if they date and marry whites......I decided to see how well those theories match with cold hard statistics. 
Contrary to what society would have you believe, only 10.8% of married Black American men had a non-Black spouse.  4.6% of married Black American women had a non-Black spouse.  It is true that the percentage goes up, based on education level, however it is only a marginal increase (2.5% difference).
It is also interesting to note that the percentage of African American men cohabiting with someone of another race is 5.5% higher than those that marry someone from another race.  So, it is more likely that an African American man will date and live with a woman of another race, but less likely that he will actually marry her.
In an answer to those men who feel that it is easier to be with women of other races, due to the "attitude" that black women have, it would be useful to note that the divorce rate among black men and non-black women, the divorce rate is twice the divorce rate of same-race married couples.  Surprisingly, when the roles are switched (black women marrying other races) their marriage is 44% less likely to end in divorce.*  So, my black sisters, it is definitely time for us to expand our horizons.
*Please note that these divorce rates are based on if the couple is still married by their 10th year of marriage.
On another note (and specifically for my dear friend Tammy's benefit), of all races, Indian Americans displayed the lowest rates of 'outmarriage' overall......so it's probably better to set your sights somewhere else. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Demographics, stereotypes and the American election

Below is a topic brought up at work about how/if demographics played a part in the most recent election.  I thought this post by one of my colleague's expressed my point of view, so thought I should share.  Who did you vote for and why?  What about the people you know?  Was it based on race, gender or religious affiliation?  Was it about values?  Was it about your income bracket (or anticipated income bracket)?  Weigh in.... 

Demographics, stereotypes and the American election

Shortly before the recent American election, my cousin, a Rabbi in Chicago, had a very uncomfortable conversation with her landlord.


"You're Jewish so you're voting for Romney too - right?"

At a loss for words, the most my cousin could manage back was "well... I'm a woman too - so I'm voting for Obama"


There has been a lot of press about how demographics played a key role in Obama's victory at the polls (along with his superior team of statisticians and a strong field organization).  The data is undeniable -  Obama had significant margins of victory among Black, Hispanic, Asian-American, Women, Young and LGB voters - who also  represented a greater percentage of the electorate than in previous elections.


I mean look at the pictures below - doesn't the crowd at the Democratic National Convention on the left just look more diverse than the crowd at the Republic National Convention on the right?



But in all this data and analysis - it's important to think back to my cousin's experience.  Reducing her political views to her gender or her religion is kind of insulting.  And while there are individuals out there who are "single-issue" voters based on their religion, gender or sexual orientation - most people vote for the candidate that best fits their values.  These values are very likely influenced by your cultural background - where you grew up, what your parents value, the opportunities you've been given, whom you tend to hang out with, how you treat and are treated by others.  But they are also uniquely yours - they are your story to tell - and not for others to assume.


Obama didn't win because of demographics.  He won (in part) because he created an inclusive narrative that allowed a plurality of individuals to see themselves and their stories in the picture, to feel like they fit in and to believe that they and those they care about are more likely to be better off in 4 years under his presidency.


And that's our challenge in Inclusion and Diversity - to move away from what Laura Liswood in The Loudest Duck (I second Catherine Hackworth's recommendation) calls the "Noah's Ark" mentality of counting people and toward a toolbox that allows us to be more comfortable, engaging and motivating with those who are different in a variety of dimensions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Death of Cash........or my musings on the topic

I just finished reading an article in the July 23rd issue of Fortune Magazine on The Death of Cash.  It basically discusses all the new technology that allows you to use your phone to pay for things…..and how soon it will be possible to pay for something with never taking out your credit card, never taking out your phone and never taking out a dime to pay for it.  Correction: This is already possible.  The point of this article is that it will become an everyday occurrence, almost everywhere you go.


In this current credit and debit card age, I am one of the few people who rarely use my cards.  I have them, but I rarely use them.  The only time I do use my card is to a) buy something online b) make a huge purchase c) withdraw my spending money to last me until I receive my next paycheck.  Otherwise, I am a cash girl.


I have chosen to live this way purely for budgeting purposes.  When you use your credit/debit card, it's so easy to miscalculate and overspend.  When you use cash, what you have is what you have.  It's always in front of your face and within arm's length to spend and count what you have left over.  If I know I only want to spend $100 over the weekend.  I take the $100 and put it in the main compartment of my wallet and keep the remaining amount in a small, hidden pocket in my wallet (for emergency purposes, of course). 


As long as I'm alive, I can't ever see cash being dead in my book.  I don't care how convenient they make the new technology processes.  Unless…….


…..someone comes up with a tool that merges the convenience of not having/using cash with personal budgeting.  What if all of my money sits in one bank account and I can set up the max I want to spend at any given time period.  What if I can obtain the balance of my set amounts with a touch of a button on my cellphone & then get an update on how much I have left, every time I make a purchase……..and at the same time be able to make that purchase using that same cellphone…….which can, but doesn't have to leave my pocket to even make the purchase.  The technology to make the purchase exists.  Now, can someone add the budgeting element in?


Note: I dedicate this blog to my brother Oye, who is working hard to complete his degree in Mechanical Engineering.  If you can figure out how to make this, I'll help with the marketing and we can be part owners……Otherwise, I'll just put it out to the universe…..or maybe I'll  find a way to contact Jack Dorsey (look him up) and give him the idea.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Retirement: The Scary Numbers Behind The Soothing Lies

As always, someone at work brought up an interesting article/blog that they have read about one topic or another.  This one is about retirement (savings) and American's attitude towards it.

Given my personal experiences over the past few years, I have taken a personal (and somewhat scary) interest in this subject.

In 2009 (at the age of 55), my mom was diagnosed with a "slow growing" cancer that turned out to be not so slow and died not so shortly after.  I researched the best doctors and cancer facilities for this rare form of cancer she had, but due her limited insurance coverage & lack of funds, they wouldn't accept her into their facilities.  When she finally went on to heaven, less than 6 months later, there were no funds to bury her and give her a proper funeral, there were no funds to help maintain the lifestyle of her barely-legal baby boy, who had just graduated high school less than a month earlier.....and most importantly, there were no funds, while she was alive, to either supplement her insurance so that she could get better care and/or at least funds to allow her to live out the remainder of her life in a place where she was comfortable.

A year or so later, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer.  She was well beyond retirement age and was living off of her social security, struggling every month to make ends meet.  Thankfully when she got really sick (however much annoying it was, I also consider it a blessing and a testament to the type of person she is/was), she had more than one of her children fighting over which one of them she would stay with.  Her eldest living daughter got a bigger apartment and moved my grandma in.  Still, it was a struggle financially, but they were able to make it work.  When she passed (family selfishness aside), she had monies saved through insurance policies that were able to be used to pay for her funeral.....as well as a little extra that could've (note on could've) been used to supplement the rental costs of the home her eldest daughter had moved into in order to take care of her mother.

My dad has worked in sales most of his adult life.  He's good at it and has been able to make a pretty penny off of it for many years of his life.  Now, his health is dismal.  He has major heart issues that sometimes keeps him in the hospital for days at a time.  While I don't think his line of work allows for "paid" medical leave, I do believe that he was somewhat smart with his savings, so is able to maintain his bills.....despite it likely being a bit of a struggle and stretch.  At the current moment, he is deciding what the best decision, as far as retirement goes.  He has retirement savings put away, it's just a matter of if he wants to let it grow some more or start the process of withdrawals now.  If, God forbid, something happens, his wife (who is disabled from a car accident years ago) will at least have funds to pay for all of his funeral expenses and to live off of for some time.

Lastly, today marks the day that my mother-in-law will be released from the hospital/re-hab center (yay!).  Several years ago (before I even met my husband) she stopped working due to sickness related to her sickle cell anemia.  Some years after that (and I'd like to think I played a part in this), she was able to get on disability and subsequently get her own apartment.  A few years later, 1 1/2 years ago, she suffered a minor stroke, mainly due to improper eating and lack of exercise.  A few weeks ago, my husband went to visit his mom after work and drop off some waterproof pads (a whole other story).  When he arrived, he found her laying on the floor between the kitchen and the livingroom.  She had fallen...... three days earlier..... hence the hospital/re-hab admission and subsequent release.  In addition to the release date (which is a blessing!), today she will be staying with us until my husband can find a viable solution to her current living arrangement (living alone with only the occasional visits of her sons and other family members.....mainly my husband).  This is not conducive to her current health condition and cannot continue.  As it currently stands, there is only medicaid and a monthly disability check.  There are no savings or retirement money that can be used to make sure she gets the proper care needed.  She is basically at the mercy of the state (who may have programs to supplement the cost of elder care) and her medicaid (which can be used for limited coverage options).....and her children/family.

Living through all these situations make me very aware of how important savings (including & especially retirement savings) actually is.  While the money is set aside specifically for retirement, it can be used at any time and penalties can be avoided if the money is being used for purposes, such as sickness, education, your first home, birth of a new child, marriage, etc.  Also, it can also serve as an additional form of life insurance, if you die before your expected time.

Retirement: The Scary Numbers Behind The Soothing Lies

Tyler Durden's picture
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/12/2012

The state of Americans' retirement accounts is dismal is how ConvergEx's Nick Colas begins his critically important-to-read note on the reality that millions face. According to an early 2012 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Colas notes only 58% of us are currently saving money for retirement – and 60% of those that are have less than $25,000. Thirty percent have less than $1,000. Needless to say, it's a far cry from the 8x-10x final earnings suggested by most retirement planners. So why are we so far behind? Americans aren't exactly known for impressive savings habits, but that alone does not explain our poor preparation for retirement. Rather, a general lack of financial literacy, including basic understandings of savings growth and retirement income needs, superseding financial obligations, and basic behavioral finance biases keep us from putting cash away. But if we keep up at this pace, you can expect the ongoing political debate about Social Security to take on new and more strident tones.

Via Nick Colas (and Sarah Miller) of ConvergEx: Hope I Die Before I Get Old

Note From Nick: I don't remember anything about being 23.  Or 24.  Or…, well, you get the idea.  But understanding the financial decision making of this cohort is a useful exercise, especially when it comes to investing for retirement.  Happily, Sarah is in the thick of these decisions and is, in fact, 23.  It is pretty easy to see the long shadow of an important social problem from her narrative.  If you think the debate over Social Security is raging now, just wait a few years.  And now, over to Sarah…
I've been at ConvergEx for just over a year now, and I'm happy to say I've survived 12 months at my first job in the "real world" after college. I'd like to think I'm a bit smarter than I was when I walked in here last year. When I was given the employee handbook with all the options for healthcare, restaurant discounts, and pre-tax transportation contributions, I admit I had no idea what to choose. So I did what any 22-year-old Millennial child would have done: I called my parents. I figured my mother, who works in healthcare, and my father, the finance professional, would be the best advisors for these kinds of decisions.
After deciding on my options for healthcare and transportation, we finally came to the 401k – something I had certainly heard of, but never really confronted. At 22, retirement savings was nowhere near the top of my priority list; and having just moved into New York City, I was not keen to tuck away part of my paycheck that could have been redirected towards some other expense. After all, wouldn't that money serve me so much better as a new pair of boots than it would in some account? Part of me is still inclined to say "YES!". But knowing my parents probably knew more about this than I did, I followed their advice and put a whopping 1% of my paycheck towards the 401k.
Little did I know that only one year into my employment, at the age of 23, I would be farther ahead in my retirement savings plan than millions of American workers. According to a March 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute for "retirement confidence", the majority of Americans are vastly underprepared for retirement, with very few savings or even none at all. A few key takeaways from the report, which can be found here:
  • Only 58% of us are even saving for retirement in the first place. Of that group, 60% have less than $25,000 put away, not including home equity or defined benefit plans. Even worse, a full 30% have less than $1,000. A meager 10% have $250,000 or more. (For comparison's sake, a quick survey of different retirement advisors' websites showed that the average recommended savings is about 8x-10x final salary – by some estimates, around $1 million)
  • While these low savings might be expected of the youngest age cohort, almost half (48%) of workers ages 45 and up have less than $25,000 saved.
  • Savings rates and the amount saved are strongly positively correlated to education, income, and health status. 93% of those making more than $75,000 are saving, compared to 35% of those with and income of $35,000 or less.
  • Only 38% of all American workers participate in an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan. That said, only 74% are offered this kind of plan. Of those that choose to participate (81%), savings and investments typically total at least $50,000.
  • 34% of workers that had saved said they have had to dip into their savings to pay for everyday expenses. 22% of retirees claim they're taking more than they thought they would out of their accounts, depleting their savings even faster than they anticipated.
  • Overall it's a pretty bleak picture. On the whole, Americans are hugely underprepared for retirement, leading quite a few of them (22%) to put off retirement to a later date, or not retire at all (7%).
But why the lack of preparation? Several complementary reasons might reveal the answer:
1. Lack of financial literacy. Americans on the whole are not versed in the ways of financial planning. A study by Lusardi and Mitchell in 2005 found that less than half of a sample of US adults 50 and older was able to answer simple questions about inflation and compounding interest. Another study, by McKensie and Liersch in 2011, showed that a majority of adults misunderstood savings growth: they expected it grew linearly rather than exponentially, therefore underestimating the potential return a small investment could have over several years. When exponential growth of savings was demonstrated, real employees chose to save more for retirement (see the study here). To top it all off, 34% of those surveyed by the EBRI estimated they needed less than $250,000 to retire.

It's plain correlation, here – the more you know about retirement planning, the more likely you are to do it. Most Americans don't even calculate how much they might need, leading them to grossly underestimate the costs. A good portion of them (79%, according to the EBRI) also think that Social Security will be a dependable source of income during retirement – much more so than retirees in the 20th century. While that may be true for the Baby Boomers, my generation can't bank on SS being there when we turn 65. Instead, it's important that we understand the importance of saving for retirement – or, more likely, the risks of not doing so.

2. Basic behavioral finance biases. Much like the typical stock market investor, retirement savers face several obstructions in the way of their savings goals. A short report from the 2010 Social Security Bulletin, found here, highlights a few of these.
"Ambiguity aversion" is rampant: investors don't trust products they don't understand. Given the lack of financial understanding of retirement accounts, then, it's not surprising that so many Americans shy away from them.
"Heuristics bias" is another classic behavioral finance term found in retirement savings literature. Even if we do choose to save, we may not follow the so-called "rules of thumb" that classical economics assumes in retirement accounts. For example, the traditional allocation shift from equity to bonds as one ages is assumed in classical finance, but according to a 2009 study by VanDerhei, quite a few older investors did not follow this "rule" and lost a significant portion of their savings in 2008.
"Hyperbolic discounting" is also to blame. This is the theory that we sacrifice long-term large gains for short-term immediate gains – we'd rather have an extra $20 in our pockets every month than in an account we don't touch. This will be a tough one for Americans – the chronic spenders – to overcome.

3. Superseding financial obligations or situation. From weekly groceries to college tuition, savers today are putting other financial obligations ahead of their retirement plans. According to the EBRI survey, 62% of workers consider their current level of debt to be a problem, and may choose to allocate more spending to paying down that debt than to saving for the future. Lower income households are especially prone to this problem: with less income to put away, fewer and fewer of them are saving (down to 35% in 2012 from 49% in 2009).

4. Options. While employer-sponsored retirement savings plans yield high participation rates and above-average savings, not all workers are fortunate enough to have this option. Defined contribution plans such as 401ks and IRAs have overtaken defined benefit plans in the private sector: according to a Department of Labor report from March (found here), a peak of 175,143 private pension plans existed in 1983. That number is now down to 47,137. And as various retirement account studies show, "opt-in" retirement accounts do not draw as many participants as "opt-out" – a clear explanation for Americans' under-preparedness. This has prompted a few researchers to suggest more active advertisement of plan options for those both with and without employer-sponsored plans to facilitate higher response rates from employees.
The public sector, meanwhile, is still in relatively good shape in terms of defined benefit plans. But while state and local public employees near retirement might expect a decent payout when they become retirees, plans may have to change for public sector employees in the future. Many states – California and Illinois  in particular come to mind – have started to consider changes to pension plans given massive cash shortfalls and, arguably, overestimation of growth potential in the pensions (to see a list of expected growth rates in public pension plans by state, see here). Some localities, such as San Diego, have already switched city workers over to defined contribution plans instead.
With these obstacles in place, it's not necessarily shocking that Americans are financially underprepared for retirement. More financial planning education, or at least a simple demonstration of the importance of saving, and clear options to all workers may help to better prepare us. But a close look at what we expect from our retirement plans – both in the public sector and the private – is essential, given a general misunderstanding of savings growth and payouts on both ends. It's up to individuals in the private sector to make our own changes, but public sector pensions face quite a host of litigation and regulation to push through.
Most of all, it's concerning that so many Americans seem to think Social Security is a dependable enough program to fund their retirement. The average payout for a retired worker in August was $1,235.63 – hardly enough to sustain oneself through several years of retirement. My generation will need to come to terms with the fact that by the time we retire, SS may simply not be around. But those who are approaching retirement in the near future need to understand – and plan on the fact – that Social Security cannot be their only source of income in their retirement years. They need to start saving, and fast.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now

Oct 1, 2012

Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now

Sometimes the route to happiness depends more on what you don't do.
sad and happy smiley face cupcakes 

Happiness--in your business life and your personal life--is often a matter of subtraction, not addition.

Consider, for example, what happens when you stop doing the following 10 things:

1. Blaming.

People make mistakes. Employees don't meet your expectations. Vendors don't deliver on time.

So you blame them for your problems.

But you're also to blame. Maybe you didn't provide enough training. Maybe you didn't build in enough of a buffer. Maybe you asked too much, too soon.

Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn't masochistic, it's empowering--because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time.

And when you get better or smarter, you also get happier.

2. Impressing.

No one likes you for your clothes, your car, your possessions, your title, or your accomplishments. Those are all "things." People may like your things--but that doesn't mean they like you.

Sure, superficially they might seem to, but superficial is also insubstantial, and a relationship that is not based on substance is not a real relationship.

Genuine relationships make you happier, and you'll only form genuine relationships when you stop trying to impress and start trying to just be yourself.

3. Clinging.

When you're afraid or insecure, you hold on tightly to what you know, even if what you know isn't particularly good for you.

An absence of fear or insecurity isn't happiness: It's just an absence of fear or insecurity.

Holding on to what you think you need won't make you happier; letting go so you can reach for and try to earn what you want will.

Even if you don't succeed in earning what you want, the act of trying alone will make you feel better about yourself.

4. Interrupting.

Interrupting isn't just rude. When you interrupt someone, what you're really saying is, "I'm not listening to you so I can understand what you're saying; I'm listening to you so I can decide what I want to say."

Want people to like you? Listen to what they say. Focus on what they say. Ask questions to make sure you understand what they say.

They'll love you for it--and you'll love how that makes you feel.

5. Whining.

Your words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems makes you feel worse, not better.

If something is wrong, don't waste time complaining. Put that effort into making the situation better. Unless you want to whine about it forever, eventually you'll have to do that. So why waste time? Fix it now.

Don't talk about what's wrong. Talk about how you'll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself.

And do the same with your friends or colleagues. Don't just be the shoulder they cry on.

Friends don't let friends whine--friends help friends make their lives better.

6. Controlling.

Yeah, you're the boss. Yeah, you're the titan of industry. Yeah, you're the small tail that wags a huge dog.

Still, the only thing you really control is you. If you find yourself trying hard to control other people, you've decided that you, your goals, your dreams, or even just your opinions are more important than theirs.

Plus, control is short term at best, because it often requires force, or fear, or authority, or some form of pressure--none of those let you feel good about yourself.

Find people who want to go where you're going. They'll work harder, have more fun, and create better business and personal relationships.

And all of you will be happier.

7. Criticizing.

Yeah, you're more educated. Yeah, you're more experienced. Yeah, you've been around more blocks and climbed more mountains and slayed more dragons.

That doesn't make you smarter, or better, or more insightful.

That just makes you you: unique, matchless, one of a kind, but in the end, just you.

Just like everyone else--including your employees.

Everyone is different: not better, not worse, just different. Appreciate the differences instead of the shortcomings and you'll see people--and yourself--in a better light.

8. Preaching.

Criticizing has a brother. His name is Preaching. They share the same father: Judging.

The higher you rise and the more you accomplish, the more likely you are to think you know everything--and to tell people everything you think you know.

When you speak with more finality than foundation, people may hear you but they don't listen. Few things are sadder and leave you feeling less happy.

9. Dwelling.

The past is valuable. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others.

Then let it go.

Easier said than done? It depends on your focus. When something bad happens to you, see that as a chance to learn something you didn't know. When another person makes a mistake, see that as an opportunity to be kind, forgiving, and understanding.

The past is just training; it doesn't define you. Think about what went wrong, but only in terms of how you will make sure that, next time, you and the people around you will know how to make sure it goes right.

10. Fearing.

We're all afraid: of what might or might not happen, of what we can't change, or what we won't be able to do, or how other people might perceive us.

So it's easier to hesitate, to wait for the right moment, to decide we need to think a little longer or do some more research or explore a few more alternatives.

Meanwhile days, weeks, months, and even years pass us by.

And so do our dreams.

Don't let your fears hold you back. Whatever you've been planning, whatever you've imagined, whatever you've dreamed of, get started on it today.

If you want to start a business, take the first step. If you want to change careers, take the first step. If you want to expand or enter a new market or offer new products or services, take the first step.

Put your fears aside and get started. Do something. Do anything.

Otherwise, today is gone. Once tomorrow comes, today is lost forever.

Today is the most precious asset you own--and is the one thing you should truly fear wasting.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time......

If I could do it all over, this is what I’d do.  I’d live my life freely.  I’d study abroad, while in college, join the peace corps when I got out and gain some life experience before I settle down in an expensive home in NYC.  Yes, I’d work to take care of myself, but I’d also take chances in my youth that I may never have the opportunity to take when I get older.

It saddens me to see the young wasting their lives away with drugs and partying.  If you really only live once (YOLO), don’t you want to protect the one body that you have?  Don’t you want to use the few youthful years that you have to make a difference in the world?  Drugs don’t enrich your life, alcohol doesn’t enrich your life and partying doesn’t enrich your life.  Actually, it sucks the fun out of your life and causes long-term side effects and lots of wasted time.

As most people that know me know…..I have just returned from a week-long trip to Cape Verde, Africa and it has changed my whole outlook on life.  I love the motherland (atleast this section of it) and I want to know more!  It has almost been a week since I’ve been back and I can’t stop thinking about it.  I’m looking up Kriolu words, reading visitors guides, constantly looking at my pictures and basically thinking about my trip all the time.
This morning, I decided to get to the bottom line of these beautiful island’s mantra, “Tu dret, Sens Stress” meaning “Relax, No Stress”, and came across a blog (capocaley.blogspot.com) written by a man who joined the Peace Corp and was assigned to Cape Verde for 2 years (from 2007 to 2009).  He did everything from campaigning to save the sea turtles to teaching computer literacy classes in the depths of the Cape Verdean villages.  This made me think.  When I look back over my life, I don’t regret not clubbing more or trying this drug or getting drunk or sleeping with random men.  My regrets are not taking more chances that would’ve helped me know myself better and not having used those years when I was younger and had less responsibility (and bills and time on my side) to truly make a difference in the world and those people I came in contact with.
You Only Live Once, so choose wisely how you choose to live your life.  I am truly grateful that there are some things that I didn’t waste precious years of my life on.  God really blessed me in that arena. However, if I could do it all over, this is what I’d do…….

Tu Dret! Sens Stress!!!!!!! 



Friday, August 10, 2012

The Link Between Quiteness and Productivity (article excerpt)

This one's for my husband, whose always complaining that the "loud" girls at his job always seem to get the promotions and everyone seems to think they know more.........
Once you stop chatting and become more quiet, your productivity soars!  Let them continue to be all loud and rambunctious. The truth always reveals itself, eventually....... 

FC Expert Blog

The Link Between Quietness And Productivity

This blog is written by a member of our blogging community and expresses that member's views alone.

Some of you may have tried to reach me this morning and found that I was unavailable. That's because I was knee high in muck with my husband and some friends. We were out having what I call clamming wars, here on Cape Cod.

I have to admit, my team was quite vocal everytime we scored a clam, which by my count was many. The other team raked for clams quietly in the distance. You can imagine our surprise when the quiet team hauled in considerably more clams than our team. Who would have thought?

Sometimes we forget that the most productive people in an organization aren't the ones who make the most noise. In fact, it's often the quiet ones who out-produce everyone else.

Here are some reasons I think this is so.

Being quiet strengthens focus. It's hard to focus on the task at hand when you yourself are making so much noise. The other team, who participated in the clamming wars, never took their eye off the prize. Our team, on the other hand, did a happy dance in the sand everytime we hit pay dirt. In retrospect, this was probably valuable time wasted.

Being quiet calms others. Quiet people have the ability to calm those around them. For example, when everyone is stressing out because it looks like a team isn't going to meet their deadlines, it's usually the quiet people who are able to calm people down and carry them over the finish line.

Being quiet conveys confidence. You don't have to prove anything to anyone when you are confident. You know you do a good job and you believe that eventually others will take notice.

Being quiet means you think before you speak. Quiet people are usually thoughtful thinkers. They think things through before making a statement. Something you probably wish many of your workers would do before taking up your valuable time.

Being quiet gives you the space to dig deep. Quiet people tend to delve into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. Compare this to the surface people in your organization, who often move onto other matters without giving thought to the gold that may be sitting right below the surface.

The next time you evaluate team performance, be sure to give credit where credit is due. Remember that at the end of the day, it's not about the noise one makes, but what one actually gets done.

Guest contributor Roberta Chinsky Matuson (Roberta@yourhrexperts.com) is an internationally recognized expert on increasing profitability by maximizing employee contribution. Her website is www.yourhrexperts.com. She is the author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-­5 Leadership pick.

Friday, August 3, 2012

o________o THE BLANK STARE

I was just approached and asked to do something absolutely ridiculous.  In response, I said this: o________o
In response, they said, "What does that mean?"
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to THE BLANK STARE!
Every male on the planet knows about "The Look." It begins in early childhood when the misbehaving manling transgresses a known or unknown law and receives, from his mother, "The Look." He will receive "The Look" from hundreds, perhaps thousands, of females over his lifetime and will always be terrified and shaken by the experience.  However, women are familiar with a maddening expression that males have developed to a fine art over the years. Women have "The Look." Men have "The Blank Stare." All women have seen this expression through the years, especially when males feel they are put on the spot. "Honey, does this dress make me look fat?" she says sweetly.   She is met by The Blank Stare.   Two young lovers are sharing an intimate moment away from the crowds under the privacy of the stars. "I love you," he whispers. "How much do you love me?" she inquires. Says he, "I would cross oceans for you, scale the highest mountain, fight off ravening hoards of barbarians for you, my love." Innocently she asks, "Do you love me enough to marry me?"   Blank Stare.   The Blank Stare begins early in life, even before the man's earliest memory. Two principles are learned early on.  Principle Number One: "It is bad to lie."  Principle Number Two: "Sometimes if you tell the truth, pain follows."  For example, Johnny, only three years old, opens the door to the fridge and tries to pull out the gallon of milk. The milk is way too heavy, but he is thirsty, and besides Mom is upstairs in the bedroom.  He knows better than to do this because he has gotten into trouble before.  Yet, because males are afflicted with a terminal condition called "testosterone poisoning" they do dumb things.  The milk drops to the floor with a crash, the plastic container ruptures, and an explosion of milk covers Johnny and the kitchen floor.  Hearing the crash, Mom rushes to the kitchen where Johnny is standing, eyes innocent, dripping with milk.  "What happened in here?" she screams. Principle Number One begins to kick in: "Do not lie."  However, Principle Number Two also comes into play: "If you tell the truth, you will get your butt beat." Faced with this tension of truth versus pain, little Johnny looks at mommy in silence and blinks.   The Blank Stare is born.   It doesn't work, of course, and never will because women inflict the pain anyway.  But because males are males, they continue to react in the same old ways whether the techniques work or not.  Johnny knows that mommy knows. Johnny knows that he will probably be punished.  Yet, because he doesn't want to lie and because he hopes, against hope, that somehow he can get out of this mess ... he stares.   It should be said, however, that the blank stare is only offered to women. If a man challenges another man - "Hey, who left this mess in here?" - the testosterone afflicted male issues his own challenge "Yeah?  Who wants to know?" Arguments begin, words are exchanged, and fists may fly.  But the Blank Stare is never given to another male.  Well, maybe to a male in ultimate authority like a police officer or a father... but most males just either tell the truth or lie under those circumstances.  If a man says to another male (which he would never do), "Does this swim suit make me look fat?" the reply likely will be, "Why no, Porky, why do you ask?" Imagine saying that to a woman.  Pain would follow for sure.   Sometimes the Blank Stare is modified.  First of all, one has to realize that the purpose of the Blank Stare is to avoid unpleasantness.  Another motivation of the Blank Stare is to buy time to try to think up an excuse that is not actually a lie.  Hence a few modifications: "Honey," she says, after asking an answerable question, "did you hear me?" "Drat," he thinks, "the blank stare isn't working." "Um, I'm sorry dear, were you saying something?" Now she has to repeat the question she originally asked. The hapless man has just bought an extra thirty seconds.   It won't work, of course, it never does.  "I'm sorry dear, my mind was somewhere else, would you mind repeating that?" Whatever tactic employed, it only delays the pain.   Women are smart.  Men need to own up to that little fact.  If she asks the "do-I-look-fat-in-this" question and we don't reply, she knows the answer is, "Does Moby Dick sleep in the sea?"   If we were smart, we would just tell the truth and take our punishment.  Or if we were devious, we would just lie and then take our punishment because the female always knows when the male is lying.  But because we are noble and caring (though suffering from testosterone poisoning) we try not to lie and we try to spare feelings.  You see, the Blank Stare is actually the highest form of caring for the female.  It is a sign of the latent goodness and honour of the man.   The Blank Stare is really a compliment to the relationship that we share with the female and a way of offering respect and dignity.  Women should understand what we are trying to do, appreciate the sincere efforts we are making, and just quietly back off and accept our stare as a positive affirmation of them.

*Please note that this portions of this blog post are excerpts from another blog post available on several online websites.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creative Places to Meet Dates

So, having several single friends.....you know I had to take notice when I came across the below article.  I use to keep a personal/mental list of good places to meet prospective dates. I'll just add these to the list....for others.
Before I do, I will list a couple of places I thought (which actually may match up with some of the things I listed previously):
  1. Gym (Hey, I know a guy who met his wife in a gym.....a good guy.  The wife wasn't so good [she spent him out of house and home and then left him several years later], but still there are good men to be found in the gym.....and most of them are in good shape.)
  2. School (You want to find the man of your dreams?  Increase your education? Find a man who is on a quest for knowledge....and a higher payroll.  They will be in your classes, participating in class projects, in the school cafeteria and nearby eateries, etc., etc.....just keep your eyes open)
  3. Class/Hobbies (What do you enjoy doing or have always had an interest in?  Take a class! Participate in an adventure!  You never know who's there with interests similar to yours.)
  4. Church (Well, this may not work if you go to a tiny church, but consider some of the larger churches with various interest groups. Especially if your one of those girls who require spirituality from the man that you marry.  Why not start at the source?  Participate.  Go on church-sponsored trips.  You'll be surprised what you find.)
  5. Volunteer (Don't you want a man who thinks of others and not just himself? A man who wants to and has enough to give back to another.  Well, find something your passionate about and volunteer.  Don't be surprised if you meet a professional, handsome man with a heart of gold.)
Now on to the article...... 

Creative places to meet dates

Creative places to meet dates
Be honest: When you go to an art museum, you're not just checking out the paintings are you? Good! There's absolutely nothing wrong with mixing a little culture and cruising. Start looking for love in some of these creative places, and you just might paint yourself a more interesting romantic picture.

Be a drama queen (or king)
Sitting in the dark with total strangers may not sound like a great way to mingle, but imagine if you could stick around for an exclusive private party after the show? More and more theater companies are offering "incentive" parties for their regulars to mix with other theater fans. The Roundabout Theatre in New York City (www.roundabouttheatre.org) now offers a special "Social Series" where anyone who buys a 3-, 5- or 8-show season pass is invited to post-performance cocktail parties with the cast and other subscribers. "It's a low-pressure way to talk about theater with people who share your interests," says Stefanie Schussel, marketing assistant for the Roundabout Theatre Company.

The Roundabout also has a gay/lesbian series, a wine-tasting series and a young adult program called Hiptix, where 18- to 35-year-olds can enjoy a DJ dance party afterwards. "There have been two marriages that came out of the Social Series and countless relationships," says Schussel, who notes that other performing-arts groups around the country — including the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, IL and the Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle, WA — now feature similar programs. Check with your local arts groups, because you never know who you'll meet across a crowded lobby some enchanted evening.
Go on a scavenger hunt
Get to know your city in the most fun way possible: by racing through it trying to decipher clues and complete a scavenger hunt. "Before every hunt we ask people if they'd like to meet others and then we form teams with kindred spirits," says Bret Watson, founder of Watson Adventures (www.watsonadventures.com), which runs these grown-up hunts in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and other cities. You can narrow the field by choosing a tour that matches your interests (offerings range from The Gangsters' New York Scavenger Hunt to The Wild, Wild Life Scavenger Hunt at the San Francisco Zoo). And hey, if you do make a love connection, you two just might be back for another night to remember, notes Watson: "One guy booked a private hunt for a group of his friends so that he could propose to his girlfriend at the end."

Make something
When was the last time you created your own masterpiece? If your answer is: "Age 10 in elementary art class," it's high time you return to your creative roots. Joining a class to learn painting, photo editing, etc. is a hands-on way of connecting with others. "People come together with a desire to create something," says Bob Gereke, owner of Mud, Sweat & Tears, a pottery studio in New York City, "but what often happens in the process is that they create relationships and friendships as well." But before signing on, strategize: If you're looking to meet men, consider joining a photography, filmmaking, or landscape design class rather than a knitting circle. And guys: You'll probably meet more ladies studying watercolor or pottery than woodworking. At the very least you'll come out of the experience with something cool you made yourself.

Share your story
Love to read, write or rap? Storytelling events (including poetry jams and book readings) are a fresh way to connect with like-minded souls. At The Moth (www.themoth.org), bi-monthly storytelling forums called StorySLAMS — currently happening regularly in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Louisville, KY and Ann Arbor, MI in addition to storytelling tours nationwide — 10 randomly selected people per night each get five minutes on stage to share their story on a pre-selected topic. At the end of the night, a StorySLAM winner is selected to compete in a future StorySLAM final. "These events are very rowdy, fun and all-inclusive," says Sarah Jenness, a senior producer at The Moth. "You'll often end up sitting at a table with someone you didn't know before the night started but people always end up talking and sharing stories before or after the show and during intermission… it's just a very open environment." Nowhere near a Moth event? Check your local area bookstore for readings and discussion groups, because wordplay can be quite the turn-on.

Pull an "art-nighter"
Ever been to an art museum after dark? More and more art museums keep their doors open late to encourage mingling while admiring their master works. The de Young Museum in San Francisco has a "Friday Nights at the de Young" series (free admission on Friday nights from 5-8:45 p.m. between March 30 and November 23, 2012), which is usually jam-packed with single professionals. The Dallas Museum of Art has combined forces with the nearby Nasher Sculpture Garden and Crow Collection of Asian Art to offer a "Late Nights at the Dalsas Museum of Art" series of social events one Friday each month through September. These gatherings often include themed evenings tied to current exhibits and feature happy hours, repertory film showings, live music and DJ performances, and even a Twitter-driven scavenger hunt. (Single parents, there are activities for the kids here, too.) And the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) hosts an annual late-night party running from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. that includes live performances, DJ sets and free admission to the museum. "If two people are viewing the same piece of art on the wall, it's an excellent conversation-starter and a non-invasive way to break the ice and meet someone," says Heidi Simonian, media relations manager for LACMA.

Shake your groove thing
Suddenly, ballroom dancing is all the rage again. And social dancing classes will definitely bring you into close proximity with other "eligible" dance partners. "When you ballroom dance, you automatically get to have fun and interact with someone of the opposite sex," says Jonathon Roberts, a Dancing with the Stars professional and United States Ballroom Dance Champion. Roberts suggests that singles attend a group class or go out dancing (think swing, country/western line dancing or salsa at a local club). "Guys are always afraid to look like idiots on the dance floor, but for single men, there is no better place to pick up women," says Roberts. One place to start? Check out the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association (www.usabda.org) for social dance options and classes in your area.

Act like a starving artist
If you're lacking the funds to become an arts supporter, check out www.goldstarevents.com, which offers cheap tickets to performing arts events nationwide (including many reduced-price artistic adventures for singles). Recent bargain offerings included photography trips, art tours, and theater tickets. "These events have a tendency to bring people together to connect and share — key ingredients in a budding romance," says Goldstar Events CEO Jim McCarthy. "And because we offer tickets at half-price, people can experience a great night out inexpensively and often." Who says you have to suffer for your art... or for your social life?

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Women's Health, Redbook, Quick & Simple, and frequently online for Match.com. She is also an artist who has performed on Broadway and in numerous national tours.

Article courtesy of Happen magazine, www.happenmag.com.

Friday, July 27, 2012

5 Delicious and Beautifying Summer Drink Recipes (via Kimberly Snyder)

5 Delicious and Beautifying Summer Drink Recipes

summer drinks
During the summer, it’s especially important to stay hydrated for optimal health and beauty. Your body will crave more fluids as you are naturally perspiring more. Sometimes I feel like a camel in the summer, and just guzzle away many times more the amount of fluids than I do in the winter.
While pure water is always best, sometimes you want a little flavor in your refreshment. Unfortunately, many popular summer drinks are filled with sugar and chemicals that do you no favors in terms of your health or hydration. But there are many other good choices, and you can enjoy a refreshing summer beverage without all of the chemicals and sugar. Here are five of my favorites.

Cucumber Water

cucumber water
If you follow the Beauty Detox program, you religiously start each morning with hot water with lemon, and perhaps drink more lemon water throughout the day. This is a different twist on our daily citrus-flavored water. Cucumber is a powerful beauty food, and this refreshing beverage infuses water with the flavor of cucumber. Cucumbers are high in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as folic acid. Best, the drink is super easy to make and really delicious!
  • 1 medium cucumber, cleaned and cut into ½ inch slices
  • 2 quarts of pure water
Combine cucumber and water in a large pitcher and allow to sit for one hour or longer. Serve cool.

Aqua Fresca

Aqua Fresca
This popular Mexican drink infuses water with your favorite fresh fruit.
  • 4 cups pure, cold water
  • 2 cups of your favorite fresh fruit (I like berries or papaya)
  • Stevia to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Lime wedges
  1. Place fruit and water in a blender and puree.
  2. Place a small sieve over a pitcher and pour mixture into it, straining the liquid into the pitcher. Discard solids.
  3. Add lime juice and stevia.
  4. Garnish with lime wedges.

Iced Rooibos Mint Tea

iced mint tea
Rooibos tea is high in antioxidants and flavonoids, so it promotes youthfulness and great skin. Over a little ice with mint and lemon, it’s a refreshing and detoxifying summer beverage.
  • 6 Rooibos tea bags
  • One lemon, sliced
  • Several leaves of fresh mint
  • Stevia to taste
  • 1 gallon of boiling water
Pour water over lemon, teabags and mint leaves and steep, stirring occasionally, until liquid cools. Remove tea bags, pour into a pitcher, and refrigerate. Serve cool or over a little bit of ice.

Basil Lemonade

 Basil Lemonade
Lemons are high in vitamin C and promote alkalinity and cleansing in the body. The basil adds a refreshing flavor to this sugar-free lemonade.
  • ½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 cups of cold water
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
  • Stevia to taste
Place basil in the bottom of a pitcher and muddle it by slightly crushing the leaves. Combine lemon juice and water and pour over basil leaves. Add stevia to taste. Chill, and serve over ice.

Cilantro and Jalapeno Limeade

Cilantro and Jalapeno Limeade
Cilantro is loaded with antioxidants and aids in detoxification, while jalapeno can help rev up your metabolism. Lime is high in Vitamin C.
  • 4-1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup organic cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 large jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed and chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups of fresh lime juice
  • Stevia to taste
  • Lime slices for garnish
Pour water over cilantro and jalapenos. Steep for 30 minutes at room temperature, and then cover and chill for 3-4 hours. Strain the mixture into a pitcher and stir in lime juice. Add stevia to taste. Serve over ice garnished with lime slices.

Summer Hydration Tips

Staying hydrated is essential, especially in the summer. Water helps flush toxins out of your body. Your best bet is to drink pure water at room temperature, especially after periods of activity. Other tips:
  • Drink 30 minutes before or 60 minutes after you eat so you don’t dilute your gastric juices necessary for food digestion.
  • Avoid electrolyte replacement beverages, soft drinks, and other sugary drinks filled with chemicals. Just avoid them all.
  • When you are active, be sure to take plenty of pure water with you.
  • Drink mostly water, and have special drinks like those listed above occasionally when you feel that you need something with some flavor. Coconut water is also a good option.
  • The Institute of Medicine suggests letting thirst be your guide to summer hydration. There’s no need to force beverages.
  • How can you tell if you are dehydrated? Along with thirst, urine color may be a good indicator you need more water. If your pee is amber colored, you get thy water glass to thine lips!
  • Alcoholic, sugary, and caffeinated beverages dehydrate you, which is another reason water is best.